South Africa is expecting upwards of 300,000 visitors during the month-long World Cup. And 33 Nevada college students will be in the middle of it all.
Although their presence might make a small splash in the World Cup bucket, the contributions of Nevada and Sierra Nevada College students as marketing, ticketing and hospitality interns in South Africa over the next two months will help grease the wheels of one of the largest events on the planet, said internship coordinator Ted Morse.
Morse, who is a Reno native, and his wife Mary engineered the internships. Both worked as U.S. diplomats in Africa for more than 20 years. The Morses collaborated with South African business owners Emily Vollmer and Lyndon Barends, both of whom pieced together more than 30 internships for Nevada students. In the future, a developing exchange program will bring South African students on entrepreneurial internships to Reno.
Morse established a competitive application process at Sierra Nevada College and UNR, and more than 100 students competed for the positions. The 33 students arrived in early May to begin their duties, which range from security to ticket collecting and airport pickup. They are receiving free lodging, meals and tickets to two World Cup games throughout the month.
"To learn how to work in a multicultural environment will be a challenge for many of them," Mary said.
Students have been volunteering in low-income areas of Cape Town and Johannesburg, which Ted Morse said is an education in itself, prior to this week's start of the World Cup.
"It's well organized," he said. "Their learning experience is going to be astronomical."